The first very big day of training came on Day 3. We began the day with 4100 yards of mostly aerobic swimming. Not extremely challenging but good solid work. Attention to detail was the focus, making sure that both Danielle and Louis were swimming consistently with good form and at a constant pace per 100 through a ladder set of 200-400-600-800.A solid breakfast and a quick nap followed the swimming. Then we prepared for the first big bike ride: 90 miles out-and-back to Bartlett Reservoir in the Tonto National Forest outside of Phoenix. The weather was promising to be perfect, and we were all very excited to be putting in some solid miles in sunshine.
The team rode together for the first 20 miles of the ride from our condo, North, to Cave Creek. After a quick bio break, we each set out, focusing on our individual goals for the main portion of the ride. This made for a pretty interesting day.
It was during this ride that it became clear exactly how different DK and Lou are as athletes. Danielle’s focus is Ironman-distance, which means that her training is primarily focused on optimizing her performance over long distances. She is what I call a “very aerobic” athlete. Her strengths are being able hold solid aerobic efforts for very long periods of time. Pushing her beyond her comfort zone into even a slightly anaerobic effort of exercise, and we start to see her break down. Louis, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. He can put out huge efforts at very high intensities, which is ideal for his focus on short course triathlon. However, Lou’s ability to sustain efforts beyond his focused distances is limited. For him, somewhere around the 2 ½ to 3 hour mark, the lights just go out.
As we began our individual main sets on this long bike ride, it was predictable that Lou would be riding off the front, followed by Danielle. After 90 minutes or so of primarily individual training, the group came back together, and not surprisingly, Danielle had caught and passed Lou, who, although he managed some huge efforts, had reached his limit, and was now running on empty.
We stopped again in Cave Creek to refuel and prepare for the 20 mile ride home. Eating a giant Payday candy bar at a roadside gas station never seemed as perfect as it did on this day!
With Lou in tow, DK (who was feeling great!) and I took turns pulling the small group back home, making sure to keep Lou from falling off the back (even a couple of candy bars weren’t enough to keep this speedster on our wheels this far into the ride).
We finally got home. Lou was clearly done for the day, so he immediately refueled and began preparing for the next day’s training. Danielle, on the other hand, was just getting started. This day’s training in particular was a break through day for Danielle. A solid swim, followed by long bike, and now: 60 minutes of running off of the bike. This is Ironman-distance training!
For Danielle, this was the first big Ironman specific test day of the season. Our goal was to do the work, and just see what was working and what was in need of attention. After a very solid set of intervals during a 90 mile bike, DK was feeling great running off of the bike. Her pace in the first 10 minutes was kept conservative, but then gradually increased to race pace. By the 45 minute mark, she was comfortably at or just above our predicted race pace, and feeling really strong. All signs were saying “GO!”
After a huge day of work (7 ½ hours of training!), it was time to refuel and relax once again. We were all very pleased with the how the day went, and as we discussed our favorite moments and what we were looking forward to in the next days, it wasn’t long before we were all ready for some big sleeping hours!